Comments from John Fink

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John Fink
John Fink commented about VIP Quincy 3 on Jan 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Apparently now has digital projection (including 3D) – – unlike many small Kerasotes sites they closed – it looks like they’re in this one for the long haul.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Bow-Tie Clairidge Cinemas on Jan 22, 2012 at 8:38 am

Kinnelon is an art cinema when they have nothing else to show, for example, they once showed such indie fair as Puss in Boots and New Years Eve. The Clairidge is the most reliable art theatre, Clearview had previously shown these films in Washington Township and Tenafly (and sometimes still do), Edgewater Multiplex gets a few commercial indie films (they are often showing date and date with the Clairidge on more commercial indies as they platform out to larger venues in the following weeks). With that said, this theater still has a problem: distorted projection from poorly placed port windows (things boothless digital might be able to fix – but I wouldn’t be shocked if Clearview doesn’t bother to correct these issues). Every time I see I’m in Theater #4 I think “oh man, I wish this film was playing somewhere else so I can see it projected correctly”. The kicker (as with other Clearviews with problems like this) is that they’ve renovated the theatre – this one closed for a few weeks while they redid the concession stand, restrooms and put in very comfortable new seats) but never bothered to correct the poor presentation. Kinnelon, thankfully used the better of the two theaters for art product – the 8-plex up the hill has the worst projection of any venue I’ve seen (along with poor customer service and clueless management) and last year I saw 280 films in theaters – so I kind of do know what I’m talking about there. (They of coarse treat you like an idiot and tell you “the film was sent to us that way” NO – you, sir/ma’m are a moron and long with whomever designed the layout of the booth).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinema Village on Jan 12, 2012 at 10:01 am

I hate asking questions on this site instead of contributing but I was hoping someone could shed some light on what the set-up was as a single screen venue? It’s currently has a lobby with box office/concession on street level, theater #1 up a half-flight of stairs, theater #2 up a full-flight of stairs (with “stadium seating”) and theater #3 along with the bathrooms downstairs.

I do like this theater but worry about it and the Quad (which was showing second-run Oscar bait that was at the multiplex this fall), but they do a great job for the NYU crowd, and keep their prices even lower than some suburban multiplexes (they’ve always had a student rate).

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Loews Paramus Route 4 Tenplex on Jan 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

I drove past it a few times recently (on the way to Edgewater Multiplex) – it must be a huge gym. It would have been cool if they kept a theatre in-tact as a “cardio theatre” – that is treadmills and ellipticals in one of the auditoriums with films screening. It sounds cool though that some of the architecture is still there, like the balcony.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Bay Terrace 6 on Jan 2, 2012 at 8:15 am

Shocking they still change the marquee regularly – I’ve seen many AMC and Regal locations that permanently put up a message saying something like “For tickets and showtimes call … or visit www… me this screams cheapness and a lack of showmanship – but I understand the winter months it might be dangerous. Then again AMC Theaters are all about cutting corners and jacking up prices where they can lately, while harassing you about the stubs program at nearly every interaction with an employee (either to join or renew your card).

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinemark Stroud Mall 12 on Dec 29, 2011 at 11:15 am

Believe it or not, AMC Rockaway is not the best movie theatre USA, world or even New Jersey for that matter.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Cinemark Stroud Mall 12 on Dec 27, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I forgot to comment on this place – I went opening weekend and the place was, well – what it was. 12 screens all down one hallway (with a restroom right in front by the lobby) and a concession stand serving pretty much the basics. The theaters were small with very large screens (I was in a traditional theatre, I opted not to see Tower Heist in XD) and the theater lacks proper masking for scope films! The lame answer I got from the manager was “since most movies are made in flat, our new builds don’t have masking for scope which is why it’s letterboxed” – – uhhhh, that’s actually not correct, I’d say it’s about half and half on the production side for scope vs. flat features – so instead of screaming “ultra high tech” this place seems cheap. Unfortunately I was the only one bothered by this. The other aspects of the presentation and sound were good however.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Interchange 30 on Dec 26, 2011 at 6:00 am

The Hollywood Reporter had an article regarding AMC’s Canadian operations, many of which from my experience in the GTA had to share movies with Cineplex. To say they have over capacity would be a misstatement, last time I was at a Canadian AMC (for Breakaway) last October – I noticed how little effort they put into running the place, for a 24-plex they had no expanded menu apart from ice cream, one of their large houses was entirely closed off. As far as I can tell they also didn’t have gift cards (they were running a trailer tag for “AMC Gift Certificates” from the 1990’s) and apart from a few digital installs this location was 35MM (AMC has converted many of the sites they’re planning on begin in for the long term to all digital). They also haven’t introduced their bar/fork and screen concept either to Canada – whereas Cineplex/Famous Players had been leading on expanded concessions.

I know Cineplex can’t really grow any more to buy AMC (and perhaps even AMC closing would present an issue of Cineplex were to want to open a new complex). In the US a lot of these big AMCs that they weren’t renewing their leases on were bought up by other operators who came in and “right-sized” them, including their first megaplex the Grand 24. Empire it would appear would be the only one that could pull this off unless another exhibitor wanted to enter Canada (though I feel as if Cineplex is dominant and any exhibitor would have an issue competing directly with them). I wouldn’t appear though that the big US exhibitors are interested – Regal has a few on the border, Cinemark withdrew from Canada, and Carmike and Rave have no international operations.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Celebration 2 on Dec 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm

….the Enzian is Orlando’s dedicated venue for independent and foreign films, along with a screen or two down the street from them at Regal Winter Park Village.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Former employee wants Toler Cinema reopened on Dec 16, 2011 at 6:22 am

I have faith these theaters can reopen – and I think it’s a really bad thing when a community looses access to first run films. Digital can be a good thing – with lower cost of distribution hopefully studios will loosen up on some requirements and allow the small town indie operator to show a family picture in the afternoon and more adult friendly film at night – allowing them to offer more variety. But the reality is digital installs are growing and it looks likely they’ll be a cut-off point where exhibitors have to digital or close. I should note – some small town exhibitors have indeed found the resources to go digital, so it can happen – it just has to be part of the long term business plan.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Former employee wants Toler Cinema reopened on Dec 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

AMC will probably not permit if it its within 15-miles of one of one of their venues. The problem is as the article mentioned that digital will become the standard, and if the owner can’t pull together the financing to convert, they can only operate it in the short term. I’m wondering what sort of opportunities will arise as a result of major chains fleeing smaller and less profitable houses (AMC is apparently hemorrhaging money – I read they are trying to sell of their Canadian megaplexes, in some areas they’ve reduced screen count and/or are not booking all their screens). There are excellent smaller chains that could stand to grow, but many haven’t full committed to digital beyond a few screens for 3D – perhaps individual economic development agencies might have grant money operators can hustle, especially if a theater is viewed as a pillar in a downtown community.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Toler Cinema on Dec 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

It looks like there is some interest in reopening these theaters:

John Fink
John Fink commented about Stadium Theatre on Dec 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Apparently AMC is giving the same stock answer its spokesmen keeps giving when they close a smaller/older theatre – that it “no longer effectively competes in the marketplace” – – I called it that the small town Kerastoes wouldn’t be around for a while (and I wonder if we will see a plague wipe out many smaller operations if studios stop releasing celluloid film prints). My guess is AMC is gearing up for a screen reduction and I’ve seen evidence they are pulling out of certain markets all together (and many sites in markets they see a future for are currently 100% digital, you can tell which theaters are questionable if they haven’t been converted yet). Still, this is not good for communities that may loose the options to see first run films, as we’ve been seeing the promise of digital and lower costs of distribution is there could be a move towards leveraging single screen locations to show more diverse programing – hell maybe even an indie movie on a Tuesday night. The big exhibitors are clueless about building an actual community in their building, so any theater with character is cast aside in favor of the hegemonic multiplex.

John Fink
John Fink commented about AMC Starplex Southington 12 on Dec 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Not sure if this is correct but it appears from movie it’s a rare Rave that never converted to digital and apparently is showing Happy Feet 2 in Technocolor (film-based) 3D.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Maplewood Theatre on Nov 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm

@Poland – – this is one of the rare downtown ones Clearview didn’t buy. Clearivew as an operation has gotten better, and spends resources upgrading the concession areas, bathrooms, and seats – – but never on correcting major mistakes made in the projection room when subdividing theaters. So many of the theaters they buy were poorly built/subdivided that you’d have a better experience in a discount house.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Limited patience for limited releases on Nov 17, 2011 at 11:34 am

I agree – it’s the experience that matters – which is why good film festivals are addicting. AMC and Regal are pretty clueless about experience. Theaters like Alamo Drafthouse and the Nitehawk (in Brooklyn) get it, embrace it, and deliver a pretty great experience. I had been at Nitehawk with 3 friends that love cinema a few weeks ago – we saw one movie and decided because we had a great time (food, beverages, and a great pre-show instead of advertisement crap – I’m bias because that night they were showing a short I made before Martha Marcy May Marlene, but still) we decided to see the midnight show that was about to start for a different show. That’s not many places were a great movie experience where everything is done right that makes you want to have another experience right after the one you’ve had (that and you have to be a certain kind of person) – but Regal and AMC aren’t it.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Limited patience for limited releases on Nov 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I’ve driven to Toronto for certain films that aren’t playing in Buffalo, mostly by Canadian filmmakers I’m interested in. I did it for Bruce MacDonald’s This Movie is Broken – which was brilliant (although not as eventful a screening as Edward’s – – this was a normal Saturday afternoon at the Scotiabank Theatre). I normally have to have another reason to be in Canada though – and seeing a film I can’t see in the US feels like a major bonus. I was enrolled in a graduate seminar at University at Buffalo, Canadian Studies, last fall and we had two joint sessions with colleagues at Brock University in St. Catherine’s, ON – and what was showing at Cineplex/Empire Theaters during our two class meetings in Canada….luckily Street Dance 3D (a british version of Step Up 3D that never found US distribution) and that hilariously awful (and iconically Canadian) Score: The Hockey Musical!

Otherwise – a good part of my life was spent across the river from NYC, where I had the good fortune to see virtually anything I wanted to see in a given week.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Flix Stadium 10 on Oct 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

Dipson’s major upgrades are almost finished – they replaced every surface in the place and then some – digital sound, stadium seating with leather seats, two rows of D-Box Motion Code seats in one of their larger 3D auditoriums (4 3D systems in all). The theaters are a tad smaller than Regal’s but the quality of the presentations is finally as superb as Dipson’s other locations (Flix was showing signs of wear and tare – – now its on the way to becoming the finest multiplex in the area).

Now known as Flix Stadium 10.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Antitrust lawsuit against Cinemark revived on Sep 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm

And in how many markets where a Regal and a non-AMC share bookings is Killer Elite opening at the independents? (I looked at two I know of and in both markets Regal had it)

John Fink
John Fink commented about Jem struggles with digital conversion on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I fear this will be common, I live in Buffalo which is a market that has seen a few digital conversion (only one multiplex I believe is 100% digital in the market), and I’m wondering what will happen if the actual “drop dead date” for film of 2012-2013 actually does happen. I’m guessing the stream will slowly trickle down to nothing as smaller wide releases (say in the 400-1500 screens range) may simply stop being offered to theaters on film, until major releases and art films are also only available by hard drive.

We see it now with major chains careful about converting their higher profit locations and markets while taking a wait and see approach to the others. 70,000 though sounds steep, and there are different business models including Virtual Print Fees they might be able to take advantage of. I hate the idea of people having to travel an hour or more just to see a film, any film.

Although some small town theaters have jumped they gun and gone digital, it’ll be a battle for theaters on the bubble in very small markets.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Chautauqua Mall Cinema I & II on Jul 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Large glass lobby within the mall, a small concession stand – two long theaters one to the left, one to the right – – the restrooms are down a few flights of stairs (below the projection rooms). It’s clean and in good shape for its age, another well run Dipson location.

John Fink
John Fink commented about Princeton Theater on Jul 12, 2011 at 11:48 am

The theatre is on the market for $400,000 – – here’s the real estate agent’s page with pictures:

John Fink
John Fink commented about MoviePass Out: Exhibs Miffed, MoviePass Beta Suspended on Jul 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I disagree – dhroc: I doubt a chain will be held hostage, they will still be setting their own price – if anything I’m not sure how MoviePass will make money.

Dipson Theaters in Buffalo NY offers a season pass program and their biggest in-market competior is doing just fine. Movie theatres survive by selling popcorn and soda at perverted mark-ups anyway. If this forces a certain core of movie goers to go a little more often (and thus have more to spend on popcorn/soda) then I don’t see how it’s a bad deal for anyone except MoviePass (I’m not sure how their business model will really work, perhaps they’ve got a deal with that allows for this, I’m not sure the value of which they can sell advertising can subsidize heavy movie going- I see about 250 films a year in a theatre).

What’s wrong was this was sprung on exhibitors without having procedures in place and to deal with customers with MoviePass. Once in a while on my way somewhere I’ll stop by the Dipson Theatres in Batvia which is 30 miles outside of buffalo, and it takes them a while to find the procedure for the season pass program.

The example I give is this: the other night I saw Mr. Popper’s Penguines because I had nothing else to do. If I had to pay $9 I sure as hell wouldn’t have. To make the film more palitable I got popcorn and soda. The sale that matters to the theatre (popcorn/soda) would have been lost had I decided to do something else that night. At a cost prohibitive $50 a month (double what the Dipson season pass costs me – $300 a year) unless they announce some “light” program it will only attract folks who really want to see two movies a week. But I agree, theater chains should offer a season pass program, even though those come with limitations.

I also have, over at my blog, a few ideas on how and why I think chains need to embrace a more social model for getting folks in the door, the way film festivals do it.

John Fink
John Fink commented about MoviePass Out: Exhibs Miffed, MoviePass Beta Suspended on Jul 1, 2011 at 9:32 pm

The deal must have been done through – which AMC is a part owner/founder of. This would explain the absence of Fandango Theaters owned by Cinemark (Century) and Regal which operate in SF. This would indeed be problematic for a national roll out. Still I think MoviePass is a step in the right direction, as is making moving going more social – encouraging it is step one. I hope chains will learn this is what sets them apart from watching a movie on TV. That and bigger screens.

John Fink
John Fink commented about MoviePass Out: Exhibs Miffed, MoviePass Beta Suspended on Jul 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

The thing nobody seems to remember is AMC once tried this – some chains (Dipson in Buffalo) do have a season pass program. Here’s a link to my blog which covers this in painful, painful detail: